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You’ve got your email account, and all is going well – friends and family send you messages, and you’re getting newsletters from your favourite shops. But hold on, you’re starting to receive strange emails from people you don’t know. What are these emails, and what do you do?

These emails you’re receiving are phishing and scam emails, and now you’ve got an email account you need to be aware of them.

Phishing is when criminals try to convince you to click on links within a scam email or text message, or to give sensitive information away (such as bank details). Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer or steal your passwords.

Tips for spotting tell-tale signs of phishing

Authority: Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.

Urgency: Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.

Emotion: Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into finding out more.

Scarcity: Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.

Current Events: Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events, or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

What if I’ve already clicked?

These scam messages (or ‘phishes’) can be very hard to spot and are designed to get you to react without thinking. If you think you’ve clicked on a bad link, don’t panic - there’s lots you can do to limit any harm:

  • If you’ve been tricked into providing your banking details, contact your bank and let them know.
  • Open your antivirus (AV) software if you have it and run a full scan. Allow your antivirus software to clean up any problems it finds.
  • If you’ve provided your password, change the passwords on all your accounts that use the same one.
  • If you’ve lost money, tell your bank, and report it as a crime to Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/, the UK’s reporting Centre for cybercrime. By doing this, you’ll be helping the NCSC to reduce criminal activity, and in the process prevent others becoming victims of cybercrime.

For further information and help, contact us at Cosmic via the contact details below.